Together for Short Lives
Call the Helpline 0808 8088 100

Psychological interventions in managing postoperative pain in children: a systematic review

Journal title
Publication year
Davidson, F.; Snow, S.; Hayden, J. A.; Chorney, J.

Pediatric surgeries are common and painful for children. Postoperative pain is commonly managed with analgesics; however, pain is often still problematic. Despite evidence for psychological interventions for procedural pain, there is currently no evidence synthesis for psychological interventions in managing postoperative pain in children. The purpose of this review was to assess the efficacy of psychological interventions for postoperative pain in youth. Psychological interventions included Preparation/education, distraction/imagery, and mixed. Four databases (PsycINFO, PubMed, EMBASE, and Certified Index to Nursing and Allied Health Literature) were searched to July 2015 for published articles and dissertations. We screened 1401 citations and included 20 studies of youth aged 2 to 18 years undergoing surgery. Two reviewers independently screened articles, extracted data, and assessed risk of bias. Standardized mean differences (SMDs) and 95% confidence intervals (CIs) were calculated using RevMan 5.3. Fourteen studies (1096 participants) were included in meta-analyses. Primary outcome was pain intensity (0-10 metric). Results indicated that psychological interventions as a whole were effective in reducing children’s self-reported pain in the short term (SMD = -0.47, 95% CI = -0.76 to -0.18). Subgroup analysis indicated that distraction/imagery interventions were effective in reducing self-reported pain in the short term (24 hours, SMD = -0.63, 95% CI = -1.04 to -0.23), whereas preparation/education interventions were not effective (SMD = -0.27, 95% CI = -0.61 to 0.08). Data on the effects of interventions on longer term pain outcomes were limited. Psychological interventions may be effective in reducing short-term postoperative pain intensity in children, as well as longer term pain and other outcomes (eg, adverse events) require further study.

Research abstracts